Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Remembering Paylar

A tribute to Paylar from his phenonmenal foster mom, Shannon:

I picked up Paylar and Maximus, the Great Pyrs, from their surrendering owner on May 2, 2011, two and a half months shy of their 10th birthday.  “The Boys,” as they came to be known, were littermates and lifelong partners, and they were being surrendered because their owner was having financial problems.  Both boys were filthy; they smelled bad and felt worse to touch.  They hadn’t seen a brush, bath, nail clippers, or vet in years.  It was three days before I could get them in for a professional grooming, and in that time I didn’t even want to touch them because they felt so nasty (and I felt terribly guilty about that even then). 

 When I picked them up I asked their surrendering owner about each of them.  I was told that they had been outside dogs, living in a dog run for their entire lives.  Neither dog was house-trained, leash-trained, obedience-trained, or neutered.  I asked about their health and was told that Maximus had a thyroid problem but hadn’t been getting meds for years, and that “Paylar has a cough that sometimes makes him throw up.”  The first day that Paylar was in my home, he regurgitated 42 times.  Not an auspicious beginning.

On that first day, it was evident that the boys were uncertain about having a roof over their heads; they paced for hours, repeatedly looking up at the ceiling.  It would have been funny if it hadn’t been so sad.  Since neither dog was house-trained, and I lacked crates large enough for them, we started off by limiting them to the dining room and backyard, using tipped-over tables to block further access.  But eventually (and I do mean e‑v‑e‑n‑t‑u‑a‑l‑l‑y!), they were living proof that you can, indeed, teach old dogs new tricks.

 It was apparent within the first week, actually within the first day, that there was something more significantly wrong with Paylar than ‘an occasional cough.’ A few conferences with the vet and a few x-rays later, he was diagnosed with megaesophagus.  After a long series of trials, and much error, we found a formula of meds, food type, and elevated feeders that reduced the frequency of his regurgitations, but we were never able to stop them completely.  He had good days and bad days, and we were very happy when the good days outnumbered the bad days.

 Paylar and Maximus attended Basic Obedience class at the ZoomRoom in Longmont, CO (a loud shout-out to Marnie, the proprietress, who let them both attend for free because they were foster dogs!).  Both boys passed the class, but Paylar didn’t seem to enjoy it as much as his brother did (Paylar was never really food- or treat-motivated, probably as a result of his tendency to regurgitate), so we didn’t enroll him in any other classes.  However, both boys did go on to get their Canine Good Citizen certifications (back then we were still hoping it would make them more attractive to prospective forever homes).

Over the next 13 months, Paylar had various health issues crop up, requiring numerous trips to the vet and frequent treatments at home.  His vet, Dr. Natalie Durbin at Cambridge Animal Hospital in Longmont, CO, was always willing to see him – even without an appointment - or talk on the phone whenever an issue arose.  Her unflagging support is deeply appreciated and we couldn’t have asked for better care.  Paylar put up with the poking and prodding, the squeezing and cleaning, the subQ fluids and abrading necrotic tissue, with the grace and patience of a true gentleman.  When he had had enough of whatever it was that I was doing to him on any given day, he would simply get up and walk away from me. 

Of the countless foster dogs that I’ve had in my home, I can honestly say that I’ve never had sweeter dogs than Paylar and Maximus.Paylar, in spite of his various health issues, seemed to enjoy life.  He was happy to spend hour after hour surveying his domain in the back yard, but when the leashes were brought out he would dance like an excited puppy and wait anxiously by the front door for the chance to explore the world outside.  He was a fantastic ambassador for the Great Pyrenees breed, and giant dogs in general.  For example, a few houses down from me lives a family with 5 children, all of whom were afraid of dogs.  When we first started walking by their home, the kids would run away when they saw us coming.  Over the next year, the kids s-l-o-w-l-y got closer (or, more accurately, ran less far away), and eventually they even braved touching the dogs.  Paylar, with his beautiful thick ruff and long soft coat, seemed irresistible to them.  Everyone wanted to touch him and he was truly happy to let them do just that. 

Paylar, along with Maximus, always made new friends wherever they went, including various adoption events and other BDHPI outings.As time passed we realized that the chances of the boys finding a forever home that would take them both, as well as cope with and understand their extensive health issues, were slim.  While I am quite often pleased and impressed with what some new forever families are willing to take on, I knew finding a forever home that would take on two, senior, special-needs dogs was asking a lot (the boys were, after all, a package deal, and we would never have split them up).  When the health issues for both boys continued to mount, the decision was made to make them permanent fosters.  I think they understood what I was telling them when I said that they would never be made to leave this home; they could stay as long as they liked, or they could go whenever they were ready.  I must admit that I was surprised when, just shy of his 11th birthday, Paylar was ready first.

Paylar spent 5 days not eating and being lethargic, but there was no indication that he was in pain.  On day 4 we drew blood and started subQ fluids.  On day 6 things changed.  His breathing became labored and he was reluctant to get up.  At an emergency appointment with Dr. Durbin, all indications were that there may have been a growth or blockage in his abdomen.  The decision was made to not prolong his discomfort.  Paylar’s passing has left a hole in the hearts of all who were lucky enough to have known him.  My life is richer for having had him in it and he will be missed beyond measure.

Paylar, July 16, 2001 – June 4, 2012

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